SANDAG report shows use of heroin on the rise in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO – The use of heroin has risen over the past decade in San Diego County, according to a study released today.

The report by the San Diego Association of Governments Criminal Justice Research Division found that the portion of adult men and women booked into county jails who tested positive for opiates doubled between 2002 and 2012.

Use of opiates, which include heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and Codeine, went from 5 to 10 percent among men and 6 to 12 percent among women, the study found.

”There is strong evidence that the recent increase in heroin use is driven in part by the growing abuse of prescription painkillers,” said SANDAG Director of Criminal Justice Research Cynthia Burke. ”From interviews with people in jail we learned that heroin is often used as a substitute for prescription opiates because it’s relatively cheap and easy to obtain.”

She said drug use trends among inmates are a good barometer of what’s happening with the wider population.

”Our findings are consistent with other countywide statistics on the rise of heroin seizures, drug treatment admissions, and deaths due to heroin overdose,” Burke said. ”So it’s critical to monitor and address this issue through a comprehensive strategy.”

Young adults ages 18-24 were more likely to test positive for opiates than older adults for the first time last year, 14 percent compared to 12 percent for those 25-39 and 8 percent for those 40 and over, according to SANDAG.

The study also found that:

— The percentage of inmates who reported having ever used heroin went from 17 in 2002 to 26 in 2012, and the portion of those who had used the drug in the 30 days before their arrest rose 16 points to 42 percent;

— 79 percent of those booked into jail said heroin was easy or very easy to get;

— 27 percent of those who ever tried heroin reported using prescription opiates before trying heroin, and 63 percent of them said heroin became a substitute, often because of increased availability and cheaper cost;

— Between 2007 and 2012, the number of annual seizures of heroin at San Diego County border crossings climbed from 111 to 470;

— The number of heroin overdose deaths rose from 57 in 2007 to 74 last year.

The SANDAG study was based on interviews with 854 inmates at the Central Jail, Vista Detention Facility and Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility.

4 Responses to "SANDAG report shows use of heroin on the rise in San Diego County"

  1. VC Bookkeeper   September 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    It’s a shame that the lessons learned not even 20 years ago have been forgotten. Kurt Cobain is the poster child for avoiding heroin and its cousins.

  2. Joemamma   September 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    God forbid you use Pot for pain. I mean the number of deaths has risen from…..oh..wait…

  3. @joemamma   September 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

    This article is about opiates, not marijuana. Please keep your comments relevant to the topic at hand. Thanks. @vc bookkeeper: that’s not how it works. People will continuing doing heroine until the end of time.

  4. Joemamma   September 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    @@joemamma, my comment was absolutely relevant. And the point was short and sweet. There is no need to go into a long drawn out comparison of the two, I think most intelligent people out there understand what I was saying. What are you the FVN blog police? What right do you have to tell me what to post? Many people who comment on here have many different points of view, and that’s alright. There is no need to be nasty or curt, we are all neighbors.


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